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Citizenship blog

When the right to vote and the right to run for political office do not coincide

Ignazio Cassis’ renunciation of his Italian citizenship has re-launched the debate on the meaning of political rights – and, in particular, the right to run for political office – in Switzerland. According to Cassis, his decision was necessary – politically, although not legally – in order to be elected to the Federal Council. At the same time, Cassis did not see dual citizenship as an obstacle to vote or to run as a candidate to the Federal Parliament. This episode shows that the right to vote and the right to run for political office are not necessarily aligned. 

Can Elected Politicians Have Two Passports?

On Wednesday, 1 November, Ignazio Cassis formally replaces outgoing federal councilor Didier Burkhalter as the seventh member of the Federal Council of Switzerland. Born to Italian parents in the Swiss canton of Ticino, Cassis gave up his Italian citizenship just weeks before being elected. His decision sparked a heated debate on whether elected politicians should surrender their foreign passports and renounce their dual citizenship, once elected to a post. In Switzerland, there is no legal obligation to do so. 

In Defence of National Identity: The Dual Citizenship Debates in Singapore

As reported by Singapore media (Straits Times) on 8 October 2017, the country celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Singapore citizenship through the 1957 Singapore Citizenship Ordinance. The ordinance was significant because it laid the foundation of the single citizenship regime in the country, which has remained in force in contemporary Singapore.

Form over substance? Foreign citizenship and the Australian Parliament

As foreshadowed in our earlier post, the High Court of Australia has now delivered its judgment in a case concerning the eligibility of dual nationals to serve in the Australian parliament. At issue was section 44(i) of Australia’s Constitution which renders ineligible any person who (in addition to being an Australian citizen) is a citizen of a ‘foreign power’.

Review of K. Rubenstein, Australian Citizenship Law, Lawbook Company of Australia/Thomson Reuters, Sydney, 2017 (2nd edition).

The story of the Australian citizenship regime – told fully and eloquently in the second edition of Kim Rubenstein’s book Australian Citizenship Law – offers an intriguing insight into how citizenship regimes emerge and evolve in the case of new states, and then reach maturity over decades of intense contestation between different political and legal actors across a federal state.